Are You an Investigator?

By Greta Schulz

If buyers could get by without salespeople, do you think they would? I think most would say yes, simply because when prospects think about a salesperson, they don’t typically think about someone who brings real value.

That’s because most do a poor job of truly helping a prospect. Many salespeople are more concerned with showing their “value” rather than diagnosing their prospects’ issues and trying to solve them.

At the end of the day, a salesperson must ask, “Am I really bringing value to the prospect, or just information?” If they are only bringing information, then they’re wasting your time, your company’s time, and your prospects’ time.

If a salesperson can’t fully understand your prospects and their needs and help fulfill them, then you really have to question the role your salespeople play. Prospects and clients alike don’t want more information. They want solutions.

So how do we go about identifying problems? Your salespeople must investigate what really is happening in an organization, an industry and the global marketplace. Asking the right questions is essential.

“If I could show you how to save up to 20 percent on your [issue], is that something you would be interested in?” … that’s not the right question. When you develop a question, make sure it passes the “duh” test. If the answer of the question could be “duh, of course,” don’t ask it.

Keep these things in mind to develop thought-provoking questions:

• Research the organization. Find out all you can about them—and the decisionmakers, too.

• Use open-ended questions. I know you’ve heard this before, but it is imperative to keep this in mind. Help the prospect by asking questions that get them to think about the answer: Questions that begin with “What are your thoughts on …” and “Share with me …” and “What would happen if …”

• Once you have gathered enough information to tell them why they should buy your product or service, don’t. You still aren’t ready. Instead, summarizing what you have heard and the solutions they would need to overcome their issue. This is not a summary of what you can do, but what they need. It must be from their own words, along with a solution that they have expressed they are seeking. For example: “What it sounds like is, you not only need a faster widget but one fast enough to keep up at the accelerated pace you expect to continue. Is that right?”

When you can clearly identify ways to help prospects achieve either of these outcomes, then you no longer will be the type of salesperson buyers love to hate. Plus, you’ll be growing your bottom line at the same time. And that’s a lot better than simply doling out information.♦

Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business, a sales consulting and training firm. She is the best-selling author of “To Sell is NOT to Sell” and works with Fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips, go to schulzbusiness.com and sign up for “GretaNomics,” a weekly video tip series, or email sales questions to greta@schulzbusiness.com.

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